Saturday, April 29, 2006

Netas, crude of conduct
Amita Malik

Amita MalikTelevision does strange things to people and the coverage of the tragic shooting of Pramod Mahajan, by the younger brother he had brought up, seems to have brought out the worst in everyone.

Apart from the irony of the situation, it seemed to have elements of all the mythologies with which we are familiar, not to speak of Greek tragedy. But watching the whole drama on television, one could not but be amazed at the mela into which the hospital was converted when a man was battling for his life.

The worst-behaved were the netas who came in droves and barely waited to get out of the hospital to make statements to the media.

Navjot Sidhu: Too loud and crass
Navjot Sidhu: Too loud and crass

If these had been confined to expressing anxiety or wishes for early recovery one would have understood. Instead, everyone from Jaswant Singh to Uddhav Thackeray gave their assessment of the medical situation.

There was an expert medical spokesperson giving out regular medical bulletins to the media and facing some extremely silly questions from the media, which was also busy getting "firsts" and "exclusives" from all
and sundry.

The turmoil outside the hospital caused great inconvenience to less VIP patients and their relatives, who were frisked several times and stopped from entering.

It has now become the fashion for VVIPs from various disciplines to see and be seen visiting the patient and his anguished relatives. One wonders what good it did to Pramod Mahajan to have Amitabh Bachchan and Shabana Azmi being escorted in and out by security, although it gave some page 3 quotes to the media.

In fact, Pramod Mahajan put even Nepal in second lead. And due to mediaís obsession with sport, Sachin Tendulkar also got his due on his 33rd birthday, although he tried valiantly to avoid all fuss.

But clearly, Indians have to learn to make enquiries about VVIP patients in a less ostentatious way and allow the relatives some privacy and let doctors get on with their job.

To change the subject, much as I like NDTVís coverage of cricket and sport in special programmes and I think highly of Sonali Chander for her knowledge of sport and her deft anchoring, I think she, as well as other anchors, are trivialising cricket by the way they are letting Navjot Singh Sidhu vulgarise and trivialise any programme in which he appears.

The once lively but dignified Cricket Controversies programme on Sunday nights has become a dreadful tamasha of which the worst example was about two weeks ago.

In a programme allegedly about humour in cricket, titled Sidhu Aur Pidhu, we had a full hour of wasteful street humour, with Sidhu indulging in risque jokes as Sonali Chander reminded him that this was a family channel.

The trouble with Sidhu is that he likes the sound of his own voice so much that he cuts in when others are talking.

He actually takes over the anchoring by asking questions in a very belligerent manner of other expert participants and, in short, he makes a perpetual nuisance of himself.

He even bullies the anchors by not stopping when they politely ask him to. At times, they have to take recourse to a break to shut him up.

Sidhu has his own ribald funny programme for the masses with Shekhar Suman and he should confine his long-winded jokes to that.

In Cricket Controversies and other sports programmes, he is addressing sophisticated connoisseurs of cricket who do not find him funny.

Sidhu is probably unaware of the fact that a national daily, in collaboration with one of the most reliable research agencies, recently carried out a ranking of the most liked and least liked telecasters on cricket. Sidhu came high up under the least liked. Someone should show him the cutting.

Let me end with a compliment to all the Indian channels which covered the Nepal uprising. They did splendidly, sometimes at grave risk.

I also liked NDTVís programme on Baluchistan which was done with great depth and with revealing interviews by Anisa Jehangir, the channelís young correspondent in Pakistan, and worthy daughter of Asma Jehangir.